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Transportation for a Livable City

The pa
ath to a l
a livable c
city 2002
Contents ©2002 Transportation for a Livable City
1095 Market Street, Suite 206
San Francisco CA 94103

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Design and composition by pdbd
The pa
path to a

LIKE MOST GRASSROOTS EFFORTS, THIS DOCUMENT has our nonprofit ship through the choppy waters of this startup
depended upon many people for its creation. effort: Quijuan Maloof, President; Eileen Gallagher,
The author, Gabriel Metcalf, brought his expertise and Treasurer; Dale Danley, Secretary; Loretta DeGuzman;
wisdom to the project. Thanks also to the San Francisco Shannon Dodge; Donald Graves, MD; Amandeep Jawa; and
Planning and Urban Research Association, which co-spon- Val Menotti. They were aided by the work of the group’s
sored his effort. Board of Advisors, including Stephanie Alting-Mees, Kate
The designers, Patrick David Barber and Holly Bickert, Billy Blattner, Chip Conley, James Corless,
McGuire of pdbd, brought not only their skills, but also a Fernando Marti, Jose Luis Moscovich, Tom Radulovich,
great deal of cooperation and patience for changing dead- Maggie Robbins, and Abbie Yant.
lines and massive edits. This project could not have happened without the gen-
Fantastic edits were suggested by Steven Bodzin of erous support of TLC’s early funders, who include the
the Congress for New Urbanism, Jeffrey Tumlin of Goldman Fund, a generous individual who knows who he is,
Nelson\Nygaard Consulting, and Shannon Dodge and and the members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition,
Doug Shoemaker of the Non-Profit Housing Association of who contributed critical start-up funds. Special thanks to
Northern California. Lydia Tan of Bridge Housing helped TLC’s current funders: the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund;
the group gain perspective on housing issues. And thanks to the Hellman Family; the Lane Family Charitable Trust; the
the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition, on Rose Foundation; and the San Francisco Foundation.
whose regional leadership Transportation for a Livable City Finally, thanks in advance to all the members of the
(TLC) will rely heavily. groups TLC will rely on to advocate for implementation of
Robert Cervero and John Landis served as academic many of the ideas in this document: City CarShare, the
advisors to the project. Housing Action Coalition, Rescue Muni, the San Francisco
TLC’s logo was designed by Wessling Creative. Bicycle Coalition, and Walk San Francisco.
TLC’s Board of Directors deserve credit for steering —DAVE SNYDER
Executive Director, Transportation for a Livable City
Table of Contents Acknowledgements
Executive Summary
1: Elements of a Livable City 7
sidebar: Healthy Community Design 8
2: A Walkable City 9
sidebar: Density and Sustainability 11
3: Fast and Frequent Local Transit 12
sidebar: Rapid Transit Toolbox 14
4: Effective Regional Transit 16
sidebar: Regional Planning 18
5: Safe and Comfortable Bicycling 21
6: Living Gracefully with the Car 22
sidebar: Safe Routes to School 25
sidebar: Parking and Density 26
7: Shared Cars 28
8: Reclaim the Streets 30
sidebar: Street Reclaiming 31
sidebar: The Techniques of Traffic-Calming 32
9: Making Housing More Affordable 34
sidebar: Affordable Housing 36
sidebar: In-law Housing 38
10: Planning for a Better Future 39
sidebar: Downtown: A Transit-First Success Story 41
11: Paying for It 43
sidebar: Automobile Welfare 45
12: Conclusion 46
Notes 47
Photo & Graphic Credits 48
Executive Summary: ting moderate exercise as a normal part of daily life.
This document presents some of the policy changes we
The Path to a Livable City must accomplish to create a more livable city. Its recommenda-
tions build on our strengths: the city’s diverse neighborhoods
and dense, walkable land use patterns. Every recommenda-
TRANSPORTATION FOR A LIVABLE CITY (TLC) IS THE tion in here has been proven to work in other cities.
grassroots arm of the alternative transportation movement. This executive summary presents some of the most
We aim to coordinate the energy and passion of the San important ideas from each chapter. If you share our vision of
Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Rescue Muni, Walk San a more livable San Francisco, join us!
Francisco, and City CarShare. We are dedicated to improv-
ing San Francisco transportation and land use policies, for a 1. Define livability. There are five fundamental aspects of
safer, healthier and more accessible city. great, livable cities: strong neighborhoods, walkability, a net-
This document is our vision statement, an agenda for work of attractive public spaces, affordability, and regional
positive change in San Francisco. As we make progress, the connections.
city will become more livable in tangible ways: 2. Prioritize walking. The city should
• It will be easier to get where you need to be. make walking a joy—safe, comfortable,
• Fewer pedestrians will be killed. Kids will be able to walk interesting. The quality of sidewalks,
The Path to a Livable City

or bike to school safely. And senior citizens will live more parks, and plazas—life “between” build-
independently, walking in their neighborhood without fear ings—is one of the ultimate signs of a healthy city. We rec-
of being run over. ommend measures such as buffering pedestrians from traf-
• Housing will be more affordable, making the city more fic, reducing the speed of traffic on residential streets, and
welcoming to immigrants. widening sidewalks.
• People will spend less money on transportation. 3. Get Muni out of traffic. The best
• As housing becomes more affordable, and accessibility way to attract people to public transit
increases, the city will be more economically competitive. is to make it the fastest way to get
• Neighborhoods will be stronger. Every neighborhood will around. That means getting transit out
have attractive, comfortable local shopping streets. A cul- of traffic. Imagine an express network of rapid transit buses
ture of sidewalk cafes and strolling will flourish. and trains that took only 20 minutes to get all the way across
• The air will be cleaner. And people will be healthier, get- town and came every five minutes! Muni should focus on a set
of core routes and then upgrade these lines to rapid and fre-
quent service, using transit priority techniques such as bus-
only lanes and bus-controlled traffic signals.
4. Improve our connections to the Bay
Area. There are incredible opportunities all
around the region to make cost-effective
investments in public transit. We should convert a lane in
each direction on the Bay Bridge to a rapid bus corridor. We
should bring Caltrain downtown and build the new Transbay
Terminal. We should be planning for future increases in tran-
sit capacity across the Bay. Such changes will start to provide
choices in mobility to everyone in the region, laying the
ground for a future when it will actually be easy to get
around the Bay Area.
5. Finish San Francisco’s bike net- parking “free.” And we can design streets so cars can move
work. In a compact city where most efficiently, while still creating a good environment for the
trips are under five miles, bicycling pedestrian.

The Path to a Livable City

could be a much more useful and popular mode of trans- 7. Promote car-sharing and taxis.
portation. We just need safe places to ride and secure bicycle Many people need a car for just a few
parking. San Francisco should build a comprehensive net- trips each week. But if they own a car,
work of bicycle lanes, paths, and traffic-calmed bike-priority they tend to use it far more than they have to, creating traf-
streets. fic congestion and occupying parking spaces. Car-sharing
6. Accommodate the car gracefully. All over the world, cities organizations and taxicabs make it possible for people to
have found ways to provide everyone with access to a car enjoy the benefits of car use without the burdens of car own-
when they need one, without letting cars ruin neighborhoods. ership. The beauty of these car “for hire” solutions is that
We must accommodate the car, but let’s do it gracefully. That when you’re not actually using the car, you don’t have to pay
means managing the supply of parking to make sure that for it. Individuals save money, and fewer people compete for
cars don’t overwhelm the capacity of the streets. We can use parking. The cab system should be expanded and City
the market to allocate spaces for cars, instead of giving away CarShare locations spread throughout the city.
housing at all income levels. The city should up-zone around
major transit nodes, re-zone industrial lands for housing, and
conduct in-depth neighborhood planning efforts. The city’s
cultural diversity and livability hinge on our ability to build
a pro-housing culture in San Francisco.
10. Plan for a future better than today.
In many ways, the city is gripped by
pessimism, only able to imagine things
getting worse. Official city plans predict
that congestion will increase and mobili-
ty will decrease. We can do better. We
Good streets promote human
interaction and sociability. can ensure that over time, the city
grows more healthy and livable. Comprehensive neighbor-
8. Redesign our streets for livability. Streets have a dual hood planning can build consensus democratically about how
role, as both infrastructure to move people, and as social to manage physical change. Transportation planning can help
space. Where current traffic engineering practice tries to do us make informed choices about what future we want.
one thing—move vehicles quickly—livable street design 11. Use creative funding options. Transportation is expen-
The Path to a Livable City

pays attention to all modes of transportation and to the qual- sive, but there are many untapped resources that the city
ity of urban space that the transportation can turn to. These range from user fees to make sure cars
system supports. By adopting street design pay their own way, to development impact fees, to joint
techniques from great cities around the development on top of public facilities. Investments in our
world, especially European ideas of traffic transportation system will be repaid many times over in the
management, we can make transit faster, increased economic competitiveness and livability of the city.
walking safer, and public life more pleasant.
9. Build more housing of all kinds. San
Francisco’s housing shortage can be solved.
First, we need to spend a lot more money on
affordable housing. And second, we need to
encourage the construction of much more
Chapter 1
other modes of transportation.
Elements of a The quality of the pedestrian experience is intimately
connected to the third element of a livable city: a vital public
Livable City realm, consisting of places in which people can share space
without having to share anything else. This idea is close to
WE ARE MOTIVATED BY A VISION OF CITY LIFE IN SAN the heart of what a democracy is about. Cities foster social
Francisco that pushes the boundaries of what is possible in interaction that crosses boundaries of class and culture.
America—a city that strives for social justice and ecological These interactions, which provide the underpinnings for val-
balance, a city that is capable of thriving in a global economy ues of respect, compromise, and solidarity, take place in pub-
while nurturing neighborhoods with integrity, a city that lic institutions such as schools. They also take place in public
welcomes immigrants from all over the world while main- spaces—in parks, plazas, and sidewalks.
taining a sense of community. Building on San Francisco’s We cannot dictate what kinds of interactions people
unique strengths, we can learn from the successes of the have. But we can make sure the city is welcoming to sponta-
great cities of the world. This first chapter presents five neous exchanges, at least inviting people to spend time in
basic elements of a livable city. public. Parks and plazas should be gorgeous. So should
First, a livable city is composed of strong neighbor- streets, which comprise the largest piece of the city’s open
hoods. These are the building blocks of the city, each one space network.

Elements of a Livable City

with its own special character. A healthy neighborhood has a The quality of the public realm—which is one and the
commercial center that provides the amenities of city life same with the pedestrian realm—is the ultimate test of a
close at hand, including shops, restaurants, laundromats, and city. A livable city is one which promotes sociability.
cafes. Many neighborhood centers are lucky enough to have a Fourth, a livable city is affordable. San Francisco has
park, public library, police station, or school in them as well. always been a haven for people wanting to start a new life and
Every San Franciscan should be within easy walking people willing to experiment. Whether you’re talking about
distance of a neighborhood shopping street, with all the immigrants from the third world seeking economic opportuni-
amenities needed for a well-rounded daily life. ty, gay kids seeking cultural tolerance, or artists attracted by
Second, a livable city is walkable, maximizing the num- the magic of city life, the only way the city can remain a wel-
ber of trips which can be made on foot and making the walk- coming place is if people can afford to live here. The high cost
ing experience a joy. Everyone, at some point in the day, is a of housing—and its simple unavailability—threaten this funda-
pedestrian. The pedestrian deserves precedence over all mental dimension of city life.
Healthy Community
There is a direct connection between community design and pub-
lic health. Simply put, in places where it’s hard to walk, people
exercise less and are less physically healthy. Public health offi-
cials are increasingly recognizing this connection.
Walking as a normal part of daily life—the way that soci-
eties all around the world maintain healthy lifestyles—is one of
the great joys of cities. Suburbs are so spread out that few trips
are within walking distance. You see people walking the dog or
walking for exercise, but you do not see people walking to the
store or walking to a friend’s house—real destinations are simply Center for Environmental Health says, “It is dishonest to tell our
too far away. It’s no surprise, given the prevalence of suburban citizens to walk, jog, or bicycle when there is no safe or welcom-
land use patterns, that in the past 50 years, lack of exercise has ing place to pursue these life-saving activities.”1 The CDC cites
become one of the nation’s leading health problems. data that shows a rise in adult obesity in the U.S. from 47% in
There is a long history to the relationship between the plan- 1976 to 61% in 1999.2 Meanwhile, the prevalence of overweight
ning profession and the public health profession. The profession children and adolescents doubled in the same period.
of city planning grew out of the public health profession at the Respiratory disease due to air pollution; heart disease,
end of the 19th century, as doctors and engineers concerned depression, and the whole set of health problems that correlate
about community sanitation developed a set of tools to manage with obesity; and deaths from traffic accidents—all of these
urban growth. The 1926 U.S. Supreme Court case which estab- problems can be helped by a focus on community design, to
lished the legality of zoning, Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty make it easier for people to get out of their cars and walk.
Company, justified the regulation of private development largely TLC is excited to deepen the partnership between the alter-
in terms of protecting public health. Today, the connections native transportation movement and the public health community.
remain clear, as our society becomes more aware of the way that 1. Richard Jackson and Chris Kochtitzky, “Creating A Healthy Environment: The Impact of the
auto-dependency leads to air pollution and lack of exercise. Built Environment on Public Health,” available from the Sprawlwatch web site,
The Director of the Center for Disease Control’s National 2. See

Chapter 2
If we want our children and grandchildren to be able to
live here, we have to place affordability high up on the liv-
ability agenda. That means building a lot more housing for
A Walkable City
all income levels. Fortunately, we have the room. And well-
designed housing is a wonderful tool to strengthen neighbor-
TLC’s work will make San Francisco affordable in two what makes a good city. Everyone is a pedestrian. Changes
main ways: first, it will make housing itself less expensive, that make San Francisco more walkable do more than just
and second, it will make it possible, for people who wish it, to improve mobility; they make the city a joy to be a part of.
not own a car. Pedestrian improvements also make the city safer, espe-
Finally, a livable city connects people to the entire cially for children and seniors. But even for the young and
region. Getting to live in a healthy neighborhood is only part able-bodied, it will have a dramatic effect on the quality of
of the story of a livable city. If that was all we had, it would life. Our goals are to maximize the number of trips that are
be a small town—a perfectly fine thing, but something alto- within walking distance, and to give people a greater sense
gether different from a city. Living in San Francisco, we of safety and comfort when they walk. TLC seeks to
have access to a much broader world than can be fit into one strengthen Walk San Francisco’s voice on these goals.
neighborhood: the jobs, cultural events, schools, social
groups, and recreational opportunities that take place in the Walking Distance
rest of the city and the broader Bay Area. If people are going to walk as a regular part of their daily
Every San Franciscan should be able to get easily to life—to work, to the grocery store, to the movies—these
any other part of the city and the broader region. We can destinations have to be relatively close. Most people are only
have the best of both worlds: living in a neighborhood, with willing to walk between a quarter and a half mile as a matter

A Walkable City
many of the conveniences of a small town, while at the same of course. For this reason, there is an intimate connection
time living in a world metropolis that gives us a huge array between walkability and density: high residential densities
of options for work and play. are the only way to ensure that there are plenty of people to
support local stores and frequent transit service. Compact,
high-density neighborhoods gather people together in suffi-
cient numbers that local stores can find customers and bus
lines can find passengers within easy walking distance.
Pedestrian Safety and Comfort
First of all, pedestrians need safety from traffic. This can be
accomplished through extra-wide sidewalks, as on Market
Street. Or it can be accomplished with buffers—objects in
between the pedestrians and the moving cars. If there must
be towaway lanes that remove the buffer of parked cars,
some other buffer must protect people on the sidewalk.
Safety from traffic at intersections is also critical. If streets
are too wide, or if turning cars are encroaching on the cross-
walk, the walking experience starts to feel hazardous and
uncomfortable. In general, the faster the cars are moving,
the more a buffer is needed.
Second, pedestrians need to feel safe from crime. This
sense of safety on the streets, which is particularly impor-
tant at night and for women, is related to the overall health
of our society, but there is an important urban design compo-
nent. Improved safety comes from what Jane Jacobs called
Wide sidewalks, like this one on Market “eyes on the street”—from other people who are around,
Street, are safer and more attractive to paying attention. The most dangerous places are deserted:
highway underpasses, parking lots, parks, empty stretches
of road. The building blocks of a livable city—high densities
When people can get where they want to be without the and mixed land uses—tend to mitigate the biggest safety
need to travel far distances, we say they have “access by concerns simply by ensuring that there are people around to
proximity.” provide a sense of safety. Buildings with store windows and
For these reasons, more density means greater quality front doors that face the sidewalk help. Good sidewalk light-
of life. New housing, if well designed and well located, could ing is also important.
strengthen local stores and attract new ones, while allowing Third, having interesting things to look at makes for a
Muni to increase service. better walking experience. Good urban buildings face the
street with active uses, not parking. San Francisco is lucky
in this regard: much of the city was built before the car, and
Density and Sustainability
it was built over time, with buildings constructed by thou- Cities are an inherently efficient way for people to live. Instead of
sands of different people in hundreds of styles. These pro- spreading all over the land, cities build upwards, conserving
vide extraordinary variety and visual interest, but there are land. “Smart growth environmentalists”—including those of us at
still problems with the visual streetscape. The tendency for TLC—believe that stopping sprawl is inherently linked to increas-
modern buildings to put parking on the first floor is deadly ing densities within existing built-up areas.
for streets. The curb cuts, garage door openings, and blank And it turns out that there are a lot more benefits to density
walls all create an inhospitable walking environment. This is than simply minimizing the footprint of built-up areas. When density
one of many reasons why new buildings should be construct- is designed correctly to mix activities into compact centers, it
ed without much parking; if parking is built, at a minimum it enables people to walk and it enables public transit to work.
should be hidden from the street. Comparing cities internationally, there is a strong correlation
We should also note that many of the things that make between density and the type of transportation people use. As
for a good walking environment make for a good sitting densities increase, more people are able to get to work by tran-
enviroment. Comfort, security, and visual interest help make sit, walking, and bicycling.
the public realm a living place—so that people will spend

time out of doors, in public space, enjoying city life together.1 140


Metropolitan Density (people per hectare)


Inner-Area Density (people per hectare)


100 100

% of Work Trips by Transit,
80 80

Walking, and Cycling


Chapter name

60 60

40 40
20 20

0 0

Chapter 3
Walkability Recommendations
• Gradually add new development to create mixed use,
Fast and Frequent
walkable neighborhoods. Local Transit
• Reduce traffic speeds on dangerous streets to allow for
efficient flow of vehicles while reducing the deadliness of SAN FRANCISCO’S GREAT PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM IS
pedestrian/car accidents. one of the reasons for our success as a city. Our Transit-First
• Get rid of tow-away lanes, so that cars stay on the policy, first introduced in 1973, is cited around the world as
streets, buffering pedestrians from traffic. one of the best.
• Widen sidewalks almost everywhere. Make this an ongo- Between 1970 and 1990, San Francisco added 57,000
ing part of the city’s public works budget.2 new jobs to the downtown core.3 The only way this was pos-
• At intersections, make the sidewalk extra-wide (what’s sible is that fully 66% of the people who work in the greater
known as a “sidewalk bulb”) to shorten the crossing dis- downtown get to work without driving alone.4 Our success
tance across the street. with downtown development should be expanded through-
• Eliminate traffic movements that are especially danger- out the city.
ous for pedestrians such as double turning lanes (which The Transit-First policy was revised and expanded in
tell cars not to stop) and right turns on red (which kill 1999 to include all forms of alternative transportation. It
pedestrians while they are in crosswalks). remains an unfinished project, a principle that can guide
• Plant street trees where they are missing, and get a lot change in the city over time.
better at maintaining them. For local transit to work better, it has to be faster. For
• Strictly enforce the law against parking cars on sidewalks, most people, the thing they care most about is overall trip
to make sure there is a clear passage for pedestrians. time, from door-to-door. The best way to attract people to
A Walkable City

• Turn one-way streets (which encourage drivers to speed) transit is to make it faster.
back into two-way streets. That means doing everything possible to get Muni out of
traffic. People take Muni or BART to downtown because it
runs underground, on reliable schedules, stopping only to let
people on or off. TLC’s agenda for Muni is to gradually elimi-
nate all sources of delay. There are many techniques that can
be used to speed up transit; some are expensive, and some
are cheap. The techniques comprise a “rapid transit toolbox.” Transit armature
Transit node BART line
Designate Core Lines for Rapid Transit Transit preferential streets
Other Muni lines
Caltrain stops
Caltrain line
Currently, Muni provides good coverage, meaning that when BART stations Parks

you look at a Muni map, all parts of the city have a bus line
or a rail line fairly close. The problem is that many of those
lines don’t run very often.
Muni needs to focus on core routes, and make the serv-
ice there frequent and fast. Each of these lines should be
comprehensively upgraded (see Rapid Transit Toolbox side-
bar). Some core lines will have rail; others will be dedicated
rapid busways; others will run on streets with cars, on which
the bus gets priority at the traffic lights. Most routes will
need a combination of treatments.
Buses on these core routes will come every five min-

Fast and Frequent Local Transit

utes. Riders will be able to walk to any of the rapid transit
routes without having to check a schedule. These routes will
run all night.

A Comprehensive Network that Most of the transit routes today feed

Serves Neighborhoods into downtown. This should be
Historically, the public transit system evolved as a system of supplemented by a grid connecting
lines feeding into downtown. This is often called a “hub and
spoke” model. Because so many lines feed downtown, most
people are able to get to work without a car. This is what Transit for downtown commuters is extremely impor-
enables San Francisco to have such a high density, walkable tant, and in need of serious reinvestment. But since the mid-
downtown. BART was built to continue the hub and spoke 1970s, there has been a partial move to add Muni service
model, bringing workers from the East Bay into downtown between neighborhoods. This represents one of the most
San Francisco. important potential markets for transit trips, if Muni finds a
way to serve it better. The idea is to establish a “grid” of
Rapid Transit Toolbox
The key to making transit work is to make sure the transit vehi-
cles don’t get stuck in traffic. This goes for buses as well as rail
cars. We have many techniques at our disposal to accomplish
this, depending on how much money is available, how dense the
land uses are, and how wide the street is.
Subways: Running trains underground is absolutely the way to
ensure the fastest travel time. There is no waiting at street
lights, no crossing intersections. However, subways are extremely
expensive. They are only worthwhile in the most heavily traveled
corridors and places where high-intensity development is going Illustration of a future rapid bus-way on
to happen. Van Ness Avenue. Giving Muni its own
right of way will make it faster.
Dedicated right-of-way: When transit is running on surface
streets, the ideal scenario is for it to have its own lane, protect-
ed from cars. The city has “diamond lanes” for transit in some Stop spacing: On many bus routes, Muni has a bus stop on
places already, but other vehicles still block the lanes. It may be almost every block. This creates enormous delays. By spacing
possible to make them work through focused law enforcement. stops further apart, overall trip time can be cut dramatically.
Techniques of physical separation are more promising, like creat- Although some people will have to walk an extra fraction of a
ing raised curbs to protect the right of way for transit (partially block, the overall speed of the trip will be much faster.2
implemented on Judah Street). On streets such as Market, with a Bus bulbs: Bus bulbs are extra-wide sidewalks at bus stops.
high volume of both buses and light rail vehicles, this step is They allow buses to stay in the traffic lane when letting people
essential. In other places, “counter-flow” lanes, which have buses on and off. This saves buses time because they don’t have to
running in a diamond lane against the flow of car traffic, would fight with traffic to merge back into the moving lane. Bus bulbs
work well and keep cars from invading the transit-only lane. also give pedestrians more room.
Signal preemption: Allow Muni vehicles to control stop lights so Queue jump lanes: These are a technique for allowing buses to
they get through intersections more quickly. jump ahead of cars at a light. They work as right turn-only lanes
for cars, but buses are allowed to use them and then go straight,

New rail service with exclusive lanes
along Third Street will give the eastern Future transit service in exclusive lanes
and southeastern portion of the city fast along Geary will do the same thing for
access to downtown and Chinatown, residents of the northeastern part of
without driving or parking. the city.

cutting to the front of the line. This technique would work on a Removal of stop signs: Stop signs are popular because they
street like Mission, where it won’t be possible to give the buses slow down cars, but they are hard on Muni. Because buses and
dedicated right of way, but the volume of buses is still heavy. trains are so heavy, every stop causes a disruption, lurching, and
Low floor vehicles: Buses and trains lose a lot of time from delay. It would be much better for the city to adopt more sophis-
people walking up the steps to get on. Low floor vehicles allow ticated traffic-calming measures, that slow cars but allow transit
everyone to walk straight across. They also allow people in to move at a steady pace.
wheelchairs and walkers to board without special procedures. 1. Zurich, Switzerland has been a leader in dedicating space on surface streets to buses
Proof of payment: Boarding can also be sped up by having peo- and trams in the service of a comprehensive Transit-First policy. See Robert Cerrero’s
chapter on Zurich in The Transit Metropolis, Island Press, 1998.
ple buy their tickets in advance, so they don’t have to pay as they 2. LA Metro’s test of a rapid bus system, which consisted of more frequent service, visually
get on. Underground stations accomplish this by having people attractive buses and signs, and less frequent stops, resulted in immediate ridership
increases of 33%. Source: Final Report, Los Angeles Metro Rapid Demonstration
buy tickets to enter the station. Surface stations can accomplish Program, July 2001.
the same thing by having people buy tickets, board through all
doors, and then instituting spot-checks to make sure people
have paid.

Chapter 4
transit lines that cross each other at regular intervals.
This allows people to make their way between neighbor-
hoods with, at most, one transfer. The rail lines are the back-
Effective Regional
bone of this grid, crossed at intervals by bus lines. Transit
It’s a sensible approach, but for it to work, Muni must
be able to provide service that is reliable enough for timed BEING PART OF A METROPOLITAN REGION LIKE THE
transfers. This can only happen if Muni gets more dedicated Bay Area, we benefit from a diversity of people, jobs, cultur-
right of way and other transit-priority treatments. al institutions, and stores. But in order to take advantage of
TLC will work with Rescue Muni and the Municipal these opportunities, we have to be able to get there, and
Transportation Agency to build the political support to make that’s often hard today.
these changes happen as soon as possible. It will take politi- Most of the Bay Area is suburban, which means that
cal courage to replace car-traffic lanes with transit-only most people don’t have a choice but to drive. The suburbs are
lanes. But there is no other practical way to improve transit built at such low densities that traditional transit doesn’t
service. Eliminating traffic lanes, even if it causes a little bit work very well. Instead of coherent neighborhoods with retail
of local congestion, is preferable to the current trend of centers, there are housing tracts and shopping malls. Instead
Fast and Frequent Local Transit

worse, long-term, citywide congestion. We know from local of walkable downtowns, there are low rise office parks. While
experience, international experience, and common sense that there are some “city centers” in the suburbs—often remnants
when transit is faster, people prefer it to driving. of towns that were built before the age of the automobile—
they are surrounded by a sea of low density sprawl. But over
time, these patterns can change.
Local Transit Recommendations In the short run, we need to provide ways for people to
• Concentrate service upgrades on core routes using the get around given the current reality of low densities. In the
Rapid Transit Toolbox. long run, we can change land use patterns in the suburbs to
• Move towards a transit grid that serves the neighbor- have higher densities and more mixed uses.5 This doesn’t
hood-to-neighborhood market. mean turning every place into downtown San Francisco; it
• Give Muni dedicated right of way on city streets. means finding appropriate ways to introduce elements of
urbanity, often modeled more on small towns than on large
cities. In particular, the region should try to promote rede-
velopment around major transit centers.
It’s in our interest to support better transit throughout the
Bay Area. TLC supports the Bay Area Transportation and Land
Use Coalition and its counterparts throughout the region as we
work together to create a vision of coherent, walkable communi-
ties linked by transit.

The Transbay Terminal

There are plans to build a new Transbay Terminal—the regional
hub of bus operators—at First and Mission Streets in downtown With electrification and other planned
San Francisco. Coupled with the extension of Caltrain into the improvements, Caltrain will be ready to
new Terminal, this is perhaps the most important transportation take its place as the Bay Area segment
of California’s High Speed Rail network.
project in the region. If done correctly, this project could create a
magnificent urban space that expresses the dignity of public tran-
sit and city life, our own Grand Central Station. • Electrification, which allows for fast acceleration and
The neighborhood around the Terminal is designated in the deceleration.
city’s General Plan as a primary location for new high-rise office • Extend underground into the Transbay Terminal, allowing
development. The Redevelopment Agency is working on a com- people from the Peninsula and South Bay to get into the
prehensive neighborhood plan to encourage new office and housing heart of the city without transferring.

Effective Regional Transit

development. This adds up to an extraordinary opportunity to link • Comprehensive station planning both to locate stations
the region’s many transit services. It could be a textbook model of where they are most needed and to make it easier to
transit-oriented development. access the stations.
• The addition of express service, which could cut time
Caltrain between San Francisco and San Jose from 90 minutes to
Caltrain, the commuter rail service that connects San Francisco to fewer than 60.
the Peninsula, may be one of the most under-appreciated assets • Upgrading stations to ensure faster boarding, ideally with
we have. Plans now call for service to be increased from 80 trains high platforms and ticket machines.
per day to 220. Such easy accessibility will change the way the
South Bay and San Francisco relate to each other. Caltrain needs After these upgrades are completed, Caltrain is positioned
to take full advantage of this opportunity: to become the Bay Area segment of the state’s High Speed
Regional Planning
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) funds 2. Develop performance criteria to prioritize projects. These
regional transportation in the Bay Area, allocating all regional, performance criteria should be measurable and objective. For
state, and federal money to specific projects. The biannual example: the density of the surrounding area; transit riders per
Regional Transportation Plan allocates $81.6 billion over the dollar of investment; or projected mode-split to and from a
next 25 years. transit station.
By national standards, MTC is considered quite progressive. 3. Develop a plan for an integrated regional transportation
The agency has been a strong supporter of public transit in network. The goal is to develop rapid transit connections
many cases. However, MTC is under enormous political pressure between all centers in the region. Instead of each county pro-
to allocate its funding according to the population in each coun- posing projects on its own, MTC would help frame a more coher-
ty, allowing every county to spend the money on its own priori- ent strategy that could identify gaps and opportunities from a
ties. This makes sense politically, but it has problems from a regional perspective.
planning perspective. We need to spend regional transportation 4. Direct regional money to projects with the best perform-
dollars more carefully, with an eye towards a) cost effectiveness; ance or projects that complete the regional network.
and b) reinforcing center-oriented growth instead of sprawl. Projects that are in low-density areas, and are peripheral to the
TLC’s regional transportation agenda is to work with MTC to core network should not be funded with regional money. If a city
tie regional funding more strongly to sound planning objectives. wants to spend its own locally generated money on infrastruc-
We urge MTC to use something like the following four-step ture in other places, the city is free to do so. There is a finite
process for allocating regional funds to transportation: amount of regional funding, and it needs to be spent where it
1. Map areas of the region that are high density “centers” will have the most impact.
or are already zoned to become such centers. These are the To get more involved in regional transportation issues,
Chapter name

only locations that should receive regional transportation dollars. check out the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition at

Rail network. This was the way high speed rail was built in trol sprawl by attracting development near the stations. This
Europe: instead of creating a new technology from scratch, has barely happened outside of downtown San Francisco.
European countries just kept making their rail lines faster and Virtually every BART station should be viewed as a potential
faster until one day, they called them “high speed.” Caltrain, if site for a transit village.
we continue to upgrade it, will attain that same status. BART also needs to improve access to its stations. In
the suburbs, the parking lots are full early in the morning, so
BART BART is turning people away. In the cities, the BART sta-
BART is the region’s most popular and expansive transit tions are often unappealing. BART should spend money on
provider. Unfortunately, it is approaching capacity in the station redesigns. It should make sure that there are feeder
corridor between the East Bay and San Francisco during buses timed with the trains to bring people to and from the
the commute hours. TLC supports a renewed emphasis on stations. It should charge for parking, so that urban riders
the basic BART system, before more expansions. BART aren’t paying for suburban parking lots. This will encourage
should redesign train interiors to allow more people on, make car-pooling and fund parking garages. It should establish
station improvements to allow people to clear the platforms City CarShare pods at stations. And of course every BART
more quickly, install more fare gates to cut down on delays at station should have plenty of bicycle parking.
peak times, and put roofs over escalators so they aren’t
chronically broken. BART should invest in a new train con- The Express Bus Network
trol system that permits more trains on the existing tracks. The most efficient, least expensive way to add transit capaci-

Effective Regional Transit

BART’s next major investment should not be in new ty is with express buses. This idea is taking off all over
extensions, but in express service on existing routes. the world. It involves deploying buses in ways that mimic
Sections of extra tracks so that express trains can bypass rail—dedicated right of way, comfortable seats, low-floor
local trains would reduce travel time. vehicles, proof of payment—but using rubber tires on pave-
If BART is to expand down the Peninsula, one option is ment. The beauty of this model is that in congested corridors,
to take over Caltrain’s service, upgrading Caltrain to BART the buses can be given their own lanes to run in, and then
levels of service, and integrating it seamlessly where BART they can break away and provide service to communities that
intersects with Caltrain at Millbrae and in downtown San don’t have the densities (or the good luck) to have rail.
Francisco. First and foremost, the Metropolitan Transportation
BART needs to focus on the areas around its stations. It Commission (MTC) needs to fund a comprehensive express
was built in the1960s on the promise that it would help con- bus network.
need to consolidate providers or we need contracts between
existing operators to ensure seamless service that gets peo-
ple where they need to go.

Regional Transit Recommendations

• Reinforce historic town centers throughout the region as
the best places for new development and new transporta-
The Bay Bridge is full during the morning
tion investments.
commute. To move additional people, we • Introduce more urbane town centers into the suburbs
should convert a lane in each direction over time.
to express bus and HOV use.
• Adopt a regional Transit-First policy which ends all high-
way expansion projects and dedicates the region to
Second, the region needs to provide an interconnected growth through transit.
network of express bus and HOV lanes. This includes con- • Build a new Transbay Terminal that will serve as the hub
verting a traffic lane in each direction on the Bay Bridge to of the region’s transit network and be an international
this higher and better use. The Bay Bridge is full, and model of transit-oriented development.
BART is full. Our only answer in the short run is express • Extend Caltrain into the Transbay Terminal, and eventu-
Effective Regional Transit

buses. This lane on the Bay Bridge would, incidentally, have ally across the Bay into Oakland. Upgrade it into the Bay
enormous benefits for ridesharing, which already represents Area’s segment of the California High Speed Rail net-
13% of commuters into San Francisco. It would also reduce work.
traffic on San Francisco’s streets. • Build transit villages around BART stations.
• Create a comprehensive regional express bus network,
Coordination supported by a network of express bus and high occupancy
The Bay Area has more than two dozen transit providers. vehicle (HOV) lanes. This means converting some high-
All of them need more money. All of them need to provide way lanes to HOV status, most importantly a lane in each
better and expanded service. And we need to find some way direction on the Bay Bridge.
of coordinating them, so that it’s possible for riders to cross
service boundaries without awkward transfers. Either we
Chapter 5
should provide a clearly designated (but not necessarily
Safe and Comfortable exclusive) right of way for bicycle traffic. Bikes would
either be in separate lanes, or else cars would be going
Bicycling slow enough that they can safely share the street with
bikes. Anyone, from the age of eight to 80, should feel safe
BICYCLING IS THE MOST EFFICIENT FORM OF TRANS- and comfortable riding their bike to any neighborhood
portation ever invented, in terms of the energy burned to within San Francisco.
cover a given distance. Bikes are very compatible with 2. Provide secure bicycle parking wherever needed.
cities. They do not pollute, they do not cause noise, and they • Sidewalk bike racks should be omnipresent.
don’t take up a lot of space. All they require is a safe space • Employee bicycle parking, protected from the elements,
for people to ride and park. And the gentle exercise that at or very close to the workplace, should be guaranteed.
bicycle commuters get twice each day is precisely the kind of New buildings already require indoor bike parking.
workout that health professionals recommend for a longer Existing law requires bike parking in all parking garages
and healthier life. that store ten or ore cars; this should be strictly enforced.
The same conditions that attract more bicyclists— • Every major transit station should have secure

Safe and Comfor table Bicycling

slower traffic, fewer cars—will improve safety for pedestri-
ans, and reduce the high number of car-related injuries and
fatalities that this city suffers. As bicycling becomes easier,
the market for bike deliveries may expand. And finally, like
all transit improvement, if more people bicycle, fewer people
will be driving on the roads.
For all of these reasons, TLC supports the San
Francisco Bicycle Coalition in its work to make bicycling a
core part of our urban transportation system. TLC’s bicycle
agenda has three components:
1. Build the bike network. A citywide network of safe bike
lanes and paths that link every neighborhood and every If all destinations could be reached on
major destination could triple the number of people who bike lanes, up to 10% of all trips would
be made by bicycle.
can bike on a practical basis. Every street on the network
Chapter 6
bicycle parking.6 Increasing bicycling to transit is one of
the easiest ways to increase transit ridership.
• At home, residents should enjoy buildings designed with
Living Gracefully
attention paid to the need for bicycle parking. New rental with the Car
apartments should provide nooks for bikes.
3. Promote bicycling as fun, safe, healthy, and easy. Fully CARS ARE A WONDERFUL CONVENIENCE. THEY ALLOW
75% of the respondents to a Bay Area RIDES survey said people to have point-to-point mobility, without having to
they don’t bike because they “didn’t even consider it.” wait for anyone else. They get places that are hard to get
Another prominent reason people didn’t bike was because to any other way. TLC recognizes the usefulness of the
they “had to get in better shape first.” These results indi- automobile.
cate that in San Francisco, where many trips are just a The problem is that if too many people use cars and own
few miles over mostly level ground, promotion might be cars, congestion and parking problems frustrate everybody,
very effective. and even the alternatives to driving are impaired by too
many cars. That’s the case in San Francisco today; cars are
According to the U.S. Census, bicycling in San Francisco out of control.
Safe and Comfor table Bicycling

doubled from 1990 to 2000. TLC calls on the city to increase • Many of our public spaces are dominated by the automo-
the percentage of trips from today’s three to four percent of bile. Sidewalks are often too noisy for sidewalk cafes, and
work trips and five percent of all trips to 10% of work trips unpleasant to stroll down.
and 20% of all trips. This could easily be done in San • We spend a large amount of public money on the infra-
Francisco, providing a model to other cities in the country structure that supports cars, to the detriment of other
about how to promote this gentle form of transportation. social priorities.
• Our streets are too dangerous for kids to walk to school
or old folks to walk to the park—necessitating a whole
Bicycling Recommendations system of chauffeurs to get non-drivers around town.
• Complete the city’s comprehensive bicycle network. • Car owners are forced to spend far too much of their per-
• Provide parking for bicycles, which require just a fraction sonal money on transportation, to the detriment of other
of the space needed to park cars. personal priorities.
• Promote bicycling so people realize it’s an option. • Cars take up a lot of space in a city that could be put to
other use. Instead of small shops on the ground floor of
One of the most visible problems with the transportation
system is congestion. Time spent stuck in traffic keeps us
from our families and wastes large chunks of our work days.
For many people, congestion is the main, or only, problem
with our transportation system.
There are fundamentally two ways to reduce conges-
tion: (1) widen the roads or (2) reduce the number of cars. In
San Francisco, we’ve already widened the roads. Hundreds
To ensure the safety of pedestrians, we of blocks of sidewalks have been narrowed, taking precious
need to slow down traffic and protect play space from kids and damaging urban life. 7 We can’t
people from cars.
widen roads anymore. So here, we have to choose option
number two: reduce the number of cars. That requires
buildings—the traditional urban pattern—streets end up improving the alternatives to cars, which is what most of
being lined with blank walls and garage doors. this document is about, and managing parking better, which

Living Gracefully with the Car

is what this chapter is about.
None of this has to happen. It is possible to accommodate From one perspective, congestion can be seen as simply
the automobile gracefully. We can enjoy the benefits of the an under-pricing of road space. Congestion pricing tech-
technology without letting the technology crowd out other niques, which charge higher tolls to drive on roadways at
values. This section discusses some of the strategies we have times of day that are most crowded, give people price signals
at our disposal to make peace with the automobile. to change their trips to a different time of day, or to switch
If the ideas in this report are followed, congestion will to public transit. The Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge
decrease and so will traffic accidents. Traffic will move at a are the obvious places to try congestion pricing. In the
reliable and even pace. The streets will be safer, everyone’s future, San Francisco could experiment with other conges-
quality of life will be better, and it will be easier to get tion pricing tools, perhaps modeled on the city of London’s
where you need to be, whether you drive, take the bus, ride plan to charge tolls whenever cars enter the most crowded
a bike, or walk. parts of the city.8

This ground floor garage kills the active These garage additions replaced a view
street life for an entire downtown block. of beautiful Victorian architecture and
For a livable city, it should be replaced private flower gardens, with an ugly,
with retail or other public uses. graffiti-scarred, faceless wall.

Ultimately, we may have to accept some level of conges- bile, and part of this means having appropriately-located
tion as an inherent part of city life. But we need to be smart parking facilities. But too much parking is just as bad as too
about how we manage it. We need to make sure that people little. We need to find the right balance.
Living Gracefully with the Car

have options beyond getting into a car and sitting in traffic. Today the city has some misdirected policies that exag-
A balanced approach to transportation is our best hope for gerate the true “demand” for parking. The worst offenders
getting people out of traffic. are minimum parking requirements and situations in which
people receive “free” parking. There is no such thing as
Parking truly “free” parking, just subsidies that hide the cost of
It’s hard to park in San Francisco—at least in some neigh- parking from the user. When you go to a store and don’t pay
borhoods, and at certain times. But the interesting thing is for parking, what that means is that the cost of the parking
this: in pretty much every good city in the world, the same is bundled into the prices you pay for the things you buy.
thing is true. Places that are friendly to pedestrians, with a When you work in an office building and don’t pay for the
lot happening on the street, are hard to park in. It may be parking that means someone else—your employer or the
easy to park in Houston, but you have to drive several miles building owner—is paying for it.
and walk across a long parking lot just to get a quart of milk. The problem with this so-called “free” parking is that it
San Francisco does need to accommodate the automo- doesn’t allow people to really prioritize how much they value
the parking, how much they are willing to pay for it. It’s as if
the price of long distance phone service were free in an
Safe Routes to Schools
apartment building (meaning that the cost of the phone calls Not so long ago, the vast majority of children were able to get
would be bundled into monthly rent): imagine how much the themselves to school on foot or on bicycle. Children could wan-
“demand” for long distance phone calls would go up! Free der around their own neighborhoods, gradually expanding the
parking exaggerates how much people really value parking.9 area of autonomy that they could claim as their own domain.
Employees should be offered a choice: either take the But today, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
free parking or take the cash equivalent.10 The same thing is Prevention, less than 10% of children walk or bike to school in
true with housing: instead of bundling the parking space into the United States.
the rent (or the sales price), allow people to make the This means parents are serving as chauffeurs, driving their
choice about whether or not they want to pay the additional kids to every activity, and adding significantly to the morning
cost to have a parking space. commute traffic.
In new residential development, developers should not The reasons are complex. They include parents’ fears about
be required to provide parking. Instead of parking mini- violence and abductions. But the sense of danger from cars is
mums, there should be parking maximums. Developers one of the major factors. Paradoxically, the more that traffic
would still be allowed to build parking, but they would not increases, the more parents decide it is unsafe to let their chil-
be required to. dren walk, which means even more cars are added to the
Under current regulations, if you have a garage, you are streets.
not allowed to convert it for other purposes. The regulations One of the top priorities for TLC is to establish a network of
are designed to make it easier for other people who want to safe routes for kids to walk and bike to schools in San
park on the street to find a parking space. The city should Francisco. The only way to give kids back their right to independ-
change this right away: if you want to convert your garage ent mobility—and free parents from the constant need to shuttle
to a secondary housing unit, or to a storefront, we should their kids between activities—is to create routes that are safe
be encouraging you, not putting roadblocks in the way. from the dangers of fast-moving traffic. A combination of educa-
The city does need to provide some parking. But we tion, enforcement of speed limits, and traffic-calming along key
need to be careful about where we locate it. The absolute streets will make a big difference.
worst place is in the downtown core. This is where all the For more information about Safe Routes to Schools efforts
public transit converges, where the streets are extremely in California, see the Surface Transportation Policy Project web
crowded, and where too many cars clog up everything. site at

Parking and Density
The parts of San Francisco that have the highest residential den- the simple reason that that’s where people have the choice not
sities are the easiest places to walk. Stores are close by. Transit to drive. TLC’s agenda is to carefully increase residential densi-
can be frequent. For these reasons, people own fewer cars in ties over time, so that more people will have the option to walk
the higher-density neighborhoods, even where incomes are high. and take transit.
Car ownership rates are lowest where densities are highest, for

Housing units per acre Cars per household

<15 units / net acre 91–150 Less than 1 car per household
15–30 >150 units / net acre From 1 to 1.5 cars per household
31–45 Parks Greater than 1.5 cars per household
46–90 Parks
The city’s General Plan calls for parking that serves the
downtown to be located at the fringes of downtown, in Automobile Recommendations
what’s called the “downtown parking belt.” Parking down- • Use congestion pricing to manage traffic on the bridges
town should be primarily for short-term shoppers and, on and highways leading into the city.
the streets, for delivery trucks. In general, parking should • Offer employees parking cash-out so they can choose
be as far away from the center as possible; the best place is between free parking, a transit pass, or the cash
in park-and-rides that allow people in the suburbs to drive equivalent.
from their house, and then transfer to transit as they make • Allow people to use their garages for any legal purpose
their way into the city. Our goal should be to reduce parking they want to, including in-law apartments.
downtown over time. • Reduce parking downtown, where the streets are least
In the neighborhoods, a lot of the conflicts over parking able to handle high volumes of traffic.
arise from competition for curb spaces. But this can be • Prioritize the downtown parking supply for shoppers and
solved by limiting the number of permits to the number of delivery trucks.
cars that can fit on the curb in that neighborhood. • Use residential parking permits as a tool to match the
Everybody who holds a permit would then be guaranteed a number of cars to the supply of curb space.
parking space, and the permits would apply 24 hours a day. • Provide people with options so no one is forced to drive

Living Gracefully with the Car

The city should sell those permits at market rate, a price for lack of good alternatives.
that would vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. In • With new development, set maximum parking require-
some neighborhoods, it might be free; in others, parking ments instead of minimums.
would sell for hundreds of dollars a month. Permits for com- • Require active first floor uses for multi-story parking
pact cars would be cheaper than permits for trucks, because garages.
compact cars take up less space. The city’s fees could be
plowed back into the neighborhood, to make physical
One of the best places to provide parking is on streets.
It serves as a buffer between the sidewalk and moving traffic.
Finally, we need to keep track of the larger transporta-
tion context for parking: the best way to solve the parking
crunch is to provide alternatives.
Chapter 7
nearby parking lot, and drive off. The idea is to approximate
Shared Cars the convenience of private car ownership, but without the
costs and hassle.
City CarShare opened in San Francisco in the spring of
2001. It has cars all over the city, and has already expanded
to live without a car. But there will still be times when we
need to drive. One of the most urbane and efficient ways to From TLC’s perspective, there are two core benefits to
make use of cars is to support systems that allow multiple car-sharing:
people to share them. That way, people get the benefits of a 1. It reduces the number of cars that have to be parked.
car but the space they take up in the city is reduced. These Each car serves more than twenty people. For this reason,
fall into three categories: ridesharing, car-sharing, and taxis. car-sharing makes it possible for the city to reduce park-
ing and convert it to other, more important uses.
Ridesharing 2. It makes the costs of driving variable. With private car
Filling the empty seats in a car is a great way to increase ownership, almost all costs are fixed: the insurance, car
the efficiency of a highway. The Bay Bridge has one of the
Car-sharing gives people cars on
highest rates of ridesharing in the country (17% during the
demand without the costs or hassles
morning commute) because the bridge is crowded and of ownership.
because we have set aside a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)
lane for car pools. The system is working. All that’s left is to
complete the network of HOV lanes throughout the region.
To learn more about ridesharing, check out RIDES for Bay
Area Commuters at
Shared Cars

Pioneered by the Green movement in Western Europe, car-
sharing has emerged as one of the most exciting ideas in
alternative transportation. Instead of owning your own car,
you can reserve one on-line, whenever you want, walk to a
payments, and the parking space. People tend to think the • Collect information about performance of the system—
only costs of driving are gas and parking. In fact, people in how quickly do cabs come when called, and how easy it is
the United States spend an average of $551 per month on to hail one on the street.
their cars.11 And the fixed costs of owning a car are three • De-politicize the process for establishing the number of
times the incremental costs of using a car. Car-sharing cabs. Base it on objective criteria relating to the ability of
gets people out from under these fixed costs. They pay the current number to meet demand.
based on how much they drive. Over time, this encour- • Reward firms that do a good job by allowing them to grow
ages people to drive less. (which means sign up more drivers with a permit to
drive); do not allow poor-performing firms to grow.12
Car-sharing is a practical step away from car dependency. • Issue peak-period taxi permits so the supply of cabs can
It lets people use a car when they need one, but makes it expand to meet demand as needed.
easy to not have to own one. As we make the public transit
system better and better, the times when people need a car Considering the horses which they replaced, cars should
will become more rare. Car-sharing prefigures the sustain- have been a great improvement for cities. One car could do
able way to use cars. Join at the work of ten horses, allowing stables to be converted to
other uses, and getting the horse manure off the city streets.
Taxis We have yet to redeem the promise of this invention.
Taxis are essential for the elderly, disabled people who can’t Managing cars in the proper way—viewing them as tools
drive, and tourists. They let people drink and get home safe- that need to reinforce urban livability rather than giving
ly late at night. And they make it easier for people to live away our city to serve the needs of cars—is at the heart of
without a car, knowing that for quick point-to-point trips making San Francisco more livable.
within the city they can get a cab whenever they need one.
Taxis need to be viewed as an integral part of the city’s

Shared Cars
transportation system. If we can expand the market for Shared Car Recommendations
cabs—build up the customer base and add more cab serv- • Promote car-sharing as the way to gain access to a car
ice—then we create a win-win situation that is good for driv- when needed, while imposing the least impacts on the rest
ers, good for cab companies, and good for customers. of society.
A few key reforms in San Francisco would go a long • Promote taxis as an integral part of the urban transporta-
way to increasing reliability: tion system.
Chapter 8

Reclaim the Streets What are Streets For?

We need to make a profound change in our thinking: streets
are not just for movement; they also serve as social space.
Streets are places for kids to play. They are places for store
STREETS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT OPEN SPACE NET- owners to set out tables and serve coffee, or for people to
work in the city. They take up 16% of the total land area of go window shopping. They are places for lovers to walk
the city—four times as much land as Golden Gate Park. We holding hands.
spend far more time in the “open space” of our streets than For all of these reasons, the movement to reclaim our
in any park. The quality of our lives, therefore, is connected streets from cars is inherently connected to the movement
to the quality of our streets. This section describes how we to constitute a viable public realm, where people who do
can balance the need for mobility and the need for quality not know each other can be in the same space. Democracy
public space. depends on people gaining an understanding of others who
In the U.S., the vast majority of our efforts have gone are not like them. This can’t happen if everyone is always
into making our streets efficient places to drive through, either in a car or inside a building. People need comfortable,
emphasizing speed for automobiles. Even in San Francisco, clean, safe, and inviting public spaces in which to spend
in order to provide more room for cars, we have widened time.13
streets and narrowed sidewalks. We’ve rounded the corners
at intersections so drivers can speed through turns. We’ve Calming Traffic
cut down trees that obstruct drivers’ view of traffic. Great When cars drive too fast, drivers don’t have time to react
Reclaim the Streets

minds have worked to develop traffic signals that will allow and the force of the impact can be deadly.14 The human skull
cars to not stop. can withstand an impact of 20 miles per hour. Only rarely
We all know the result—we’ve turned our streets into should cars move faster than this in a city. Around the
traffic sewers: noisy and polluted places that serve an infra- world, people have begun to civilize their streets. A variety
structure purpose, but do not function well as public space. of techniques have been developed to welcome cars while
It’s not comfortable to go for a stroll or sit at a sidewalk cafe. slowing them down. Drivers need to know that they are on a
A pedestrian is killed by a car every ten days. Children can’t street, not a freeway. The term most often used for this set
walk anywhere by themselves. Senior citizens are trapped, of techniques is “traffic-calming.”
afraid to cross the street. It turns out that speed limit signs aren’t very effective
at slowing traffic. If a road is designed for cars to move at 50
miles per hour, most drivers will not pay attention to a sign
Street Reclaiming
that says to go 25. This is what happens on Cesar Chavez Streets represent the greatest waste of public space in our
Street and many other wide, straight streets. We need to cities. If we think about them in new ways, we can redesign them
design streets for the desired traffic speed. so that they still accommodate cars, while also serving as
Different traffic-calming techniques will be appropriate places for residents to hang out and for kids to play. These
in different places. Some are appropriate for narrow side whimsical drawings convey a sense of the possibilities. Although
streets, others for wide, high volume streets. Think of these it would be a radical change from the way we use streets today,
measures as part of a “street-design toolbox.” reclaiming residential streets in this way would be relatively
The only neighborhood in San Francisco with compre- inexpensive. Drawings from David
hensive traffic-calming is Duboce Triangle. Here the city Before Engwicht, Street Reclaiming, New
used simple measures like corner bulbouts and tree planting. Society Publishers, 1999.
Parking was converted to angle-in, instead of parallel.
Although other techniques might be appropriate in other
neighborhoods, we can take inspiration from this livable
street design.
TLC believes that traffic-calming has such over-
whelming public benefits, from reducing traffic accidents and
pedestrian fatalities to raising neighborhood property values,
that significant funding should be devoted to it every year.
The Department of Parking and Traffic has begun a Livable
Streets Program; it should be supported and expanded.

Chapter name
Another way to create more livable streets is to get the
job done every time a street is repaved. In the normal
process of repaving and public works investments, the street
can be made into a better living environment with with more
trees, wider sidewalks, and slower traffic, at little extra cost.
The worst streets to live on are the ones that should be
traffic-calmed first. Traffic-calming must not only focus on
The Techniques of Traffic-Calming
All around the world, communities are experimenting with new because they replace stop signs, while keeping speeds down to
techniques of street design, which provide access by car, while a more reasonable level. Seattle’s citywide traffic-calming pro-
also maintaining livability. Some of the most popular street gram, which included 700 residential traffic circles, reduced traf-
improvements include: fic collisons 71–90%.1 Traffic circles also provide neighborhood
Intersection traffic circles: On smaller streets, these traffic cir- beautification: trees, plants, statues, or whatever the neighbor-
cles simply require cars to slow down and drive around them. hood wants can be placed in the middle of them.
They can be designed to let bikes through without much loss of Modern roundabouts: Seen by anyone who has traveled to a
speed. For drivers, they can actually speed up the overall trip European city, roundabouts slow traffic by forcing drivers to go
around tight corners. They require real traffic engineering to
Illustrations of traffic-calming methods.
design, so they are a lot more expensive than intersection traffic
circles, but they are a great design solution for streets that carry
a higher volume of cars.
Two-way streets: Traffic engineers love one-way streets because
they speed up traffic, giving motorists the psychological sense of
being on a race track. One of the easiest and most important
ways to make a street more livable is to change one-way streets
back to two-way streets.
Speed humps: Raised platforms in the middle of a road can be
designed to be comfortable only if driven over slowly. Sometimes
big speed bumps are called “speed tables.” Speed humps are
controversial because they are uncomfortable for people with
joint pain or muscle tightness in their backs, although more
recent designs seem to have fixed this problem. In many cases,
they force emergency vehicles to slow down, so care must be taken
not to over-use them. On the positive side, speed humps are proba-
bly the cheapest and most versatile way to calm traffic.
Raised intersections: These can be thought of as speed tables
side streets that are already relatively calm. From a social
justice perspective, we need to pay just as much attention to
that take up whole intersections. They have the benefit of the high volume streets.
simultaneously slowing cars at intersections and making it
easier for pedestrians to cross the street. Performance Criteria for all Modes
Horizontal displacement: Bulging the sidewalk out into Currently, the city has only one standard for how well a
the street, so cars drive around it, is a great way to calm street is working: seconds of delay for cars at intersections.
traffic. “Chicanes” are pairs of bulbouts on opposite sides We need to know how our streets are doing for all modes of
of the street that cause drivers to go left, and then right. transportation. And we need to know if the street “fits” with
These mid-block bulbouts provide an excellent opportunity the uses that line the street. Traffic planners should ask two
for planting trees, too. They must be designed to accom- questions:
modate long vehicles. Horizontal displacement is more • First, what modes of transportation need to be accom-
expensive than vertical displacement, but it’s often less modated on this street? How many pedestrians? How
controversial. many bikes? How many buses? Will there be light rail? Is
Corner bulbouts: Extending the sidewalk out into the the street part of the core Muni network or part of the
street to the edge of the moving lane keeps vehicles from core bicycle network? How many cars?
speeding around corners. These bulbouts are great for • Second, what is the character of the activities taking
pedestrians because they shorten the distance it takes to place at the street’s edge? Is it only houses? If so, is it a
cross the street. place where kids should be able to play in the street? Is it
Landscaping: Simply planting trees on street edges and a neighborhood commercial street? Are sidewalk cafes and

Reclaim the Streets

in medians has been shown to slow traffic speeds some- flower stands to be encouraged? Will there be a lot of
what. The reason is probably that it conveys a subtle mes- deliveries? Will there be a lot of taxis? Is it an industrial
sage about the surroundings, telling motorists that this is street? Will it be serving high volumes of trucks?
a well-cared for neighborhood, and that they should be
respectful of it. We need a new system of street typologies that takes
Narrow streets: One of the most universally applicable account of all of these complex possibilities. The idea of
tools is to make sure that streets are not wider than they grouping streets into residential, collector, and arterial
need to be. misses all of the richness of city life.
1. Institute of Transportation Engineers.
San Francisco cannot be more livable until we develop
Chapter 9
means to measure our streets’ performance on all these com-
plex criteria, not just how long drivers must wait at inter-
Making Housing
More Affordable
• Streets should be designed so that kids can get to school enough of it, and it’s too expensive. The roots of the problem
safely and independently. lie in the simple facts that San Francisco is so attractive to
• Streets should not be designed by traffic engineers. That so many people, while at the same time there is political
task should be done by urban designers, with the technical opposition to increasing the supply of housing. We compete
assistance of traffic engineers. with each other for the finite supply of housing units, and in
• The city should abandon “level of service” measurements the process we drive up the cost of housing. As prices rise,
of car congestion as a tool for evaluating street perform- poor people are forced out. We are losing our cultural diver-
ance. It should instead use multimodal performance meas- sity, just as we are losing our artists and our families.
ures that take account of pedestrian comfort, the ability of TLC’s agenda will lead the city to build more housing at
Muni to get through an intersection quickly, and bicycle all income levels. And it will make sure that the new housing
safety. supports a more livable city by directing it to locations
• Dramatically expand the city’s Livable Streets Program. where increased density improves the quality of life.
• Where streets are wider than they need to be, use the Many of the region’s transportation issues are really
extra space to provide amenities that make the neighbor- housing issues in disguise. Because the older cities and
Reclaim the Streets

hood more livable, such as trees, benches, angle-in park- towns, which have the majority of the jobs, universities, and
ing, and wide sidewalks. cultural activities, are not allowing enough new housing to
be built, new arrivals to the Bay Area are forced far away to
the suburban fringe. They then make long commutes, which
require expensive transportation networks. If more housing
can be built close to jobs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley,
the region’s transportation problems will become much more
In San Francisco, the severity of our housing deficit is
huge. Between 1980 and 2000, the city added 100,000 new specific type of housing, high rise apartments. Bringing
residents, but only 23,400 new housing units.15 As we com- more people downtown will increase activity and pedestri-
pete with each other for this small number of housing units, an safety, supporting downtown shops and restaurants.
we drive up the cost. The transit is already the best anywhere. But under cur-
There are two things the city can do to address this rent rules, office development almost always out-competes
problem. First, the city should provide more subsidies for residential development for available land. The city should
affordable housing. Second, the city should change regula- tip the balance slightly toward housing.
tions to make it easier to build housing. Such changes will • Increase the acreage of lands zoned for housing. The city
help market-rate and subsidized housing alike. contains acres of land set aside for industrial uses that will
Some important regulatory changes that the city should never materialize. Especially in SOMA and the eastern
enact include: waterfront there exists plenty of room for large amounts of
• Make it legal to create secondary units throughout the new housing. Areas for residential development need to be
city. Sometimes known as “in-law” housing, these smaller carved out and planned for, even while the need for urban
units are at the affordable end of the market-rate housing industry must be assessed and accomodated.
spectrum. They add housing to neighborhoods without •

Making Housing More Affordable

Build with “air rights” development on top of public build-
dramatically changing the physical character of the neigh- ings like post offices, libraries, parking, or even Muni
borhood, because they fit inside existing buildings. yards. This is done in cities all around the world based on
Secondary housing is a painless way to add affordable an understanding of the need to make efficient use of valu-
housing to lower-density neighborhoods. able urban land.
• Eliminate density restrictions on new housing. Instead, • Repeal the gas station preservation ordinance. It’s illegal
regulate allowable development with height and bulk to develop a gas station into any other use. This is inex-
restrictions. This will allow developers to build smaller cusable. Any land owner who wants to replace a gas sta-
units if they wish, but to build more of them on a given tion with housing should be given the green light.
piece of land. • Change the environmental review guidelines so that they
• Eliminate minimum parking requirements as part of new assume it’s environmentally beneficial to construct housing
housing construction, to allow people the opportunity to inside cities. Right now, any proposal to build significant
live somewhere without a parking space in exchange for amounts of infill housing requires a time-consuming and
lower housing costs. costly environmental review. The Planning Department
• Encourage housing downtown. It’s an ideal place for one has the authority to streamline this process, based on the
clear logic that it is always better for the environment to
build inside existing cities than out at the suburban fringe.
Affordable Housing
• Reduce situations in which a housing development Given the high cost of housing in San Francisco, and given
requires discretionary votes by the Planning Commission the inequality of wealth that scars our society, there are
or the Board of Supervisors. The thing that most discour- large numbers of people who cannot afford market-rate
ages housing is uncertainty. The city should create plans housing. It’s not just the very poor or the people without
for where it wants housing, and have meaningful, inclusive jobs who need affordable housing; it’s teachers, nurses,
public debate about those plans. But once the plans are service workers, and many others.
adopted, developers who fulfill the plans should not face There are many misconceptions about what afford-
uncertainty about whether their projects will be able housing is. Many people visualize ugly concrete high
approved. rise buildings, often associated with terms like “public
• Conduct comprehensive neighborhood planning in cases housing” and “urban renewal.” There certainly were some
where large-scale change is anticipated. If it is done the failed experiments with public housing in this country, but
right way, neighborhood planning efforts will balance city- they have been over for decades. Today, below-market-rate
wide needs with local concerns, look comprehensively at
Making Housing More Affordable

housing is largely indistinguishable from market-rate hous-

opportunities for neighborhood improvement, and educate ing. It is subject to the same approval process as any
the participants about good planning. Once a plan is done, other development, and often it even looks better because
designating where development is to occur, the city should the affordable housing in San Francisco is built by commu-
remove all possible obstacles, making it as easy as possible nity-based, non-profit housing developers.
for developers to complete the plan. In 2000–2001, San Francisco budgeted $104 million
on subsidized housing from federal and local sources. The
Housing is a core issue of social justice. TLC believes that a money comes from several main sources:
healthy community is one which is welcoming to immigrants, • Tax increment financing—When the Redevelopment
young people, families, and people who want to devote their Agency redevelops an area, the eventual increase in
lives to pursuits other than making money. In order to the property tax base is diverted from the city’s gener-
achieve these goals, San Francisco needs to find places for a al fund for a period of time. Over the past ten years,
lot more housing, and make sure that much of that housing is San Francisco has spent nearly half of this “tax incre-
affordable. ment” on affordable housing, far greater than the 20%
Housing development, when it is well designed and
The Arkansas/18th Street Homes, Parkview Commons, affordable housing
affordable and market-rate housing. developed by Bridge Housing. Delancey Street affordable housing.

state minimum. In 2000, $5.2 million was generated from in state and federal funds, to magnify the impact. TLC is proud
this source.1 of San Francisco’s commitment to affordable housing, and we
• The housing bond—In 1996, San Francisco voters passed a believe it should be increased.
$100 million affordable housing bond. Over the life of the The other way to fund below-market-rate housing is with
bond, using the local money to leverage state and federal “inclusionary” housing, which means requiring developers to set
funding sources, it will have resulted in 2,113 affordable aside some units in a market-rate project at lower prices. San
housing units and 264 beds in shelters and transitional Francisco recently adopted a strong inclusionary housing law, a
housing facilities. major victory for affordable housing.

Chapter name
• Jobs/housing linkage fees—When a commercial building TLC will be a part of the movement to promote below-mar-
is built, the developer pays a one-time fee ranging from ket-rate housing in San Francisco, and we will work with our
$10 per square foot for retail space to $15 per square foot allies around the region to urge other communities to follow
of office space.2 From 1985 until 1999, this fee generated San Francisco’s lead.
$9.6 million. 1. See
When we spend local money on affordable housing, it brings 2. See

In-law Housing Before: just a garage . . .

One of the easiest ways to help address the city’s housing short-
age is to encourage home owners to add small, secondary hous-
ing units—often called “in-law apartments.” These units are paid
for by the homeowner, and provide extra income to help pay the
mortgage. They fit into existing buildings, so they don’t have visu-
al impact on the neighborhood. Just about the only objection to
them is that they impact the parking supply because often the
most logical place to put them is in the ground floor of a house,
where the cars would otherwise go. TLC believes that home-
owners should have the right to do whatever they want with their
ground floors—use them as extra living space, turn them into an
additional housing unit, whatever. They should not be required to
maintain them for parking. San Francisco has the lowest car
After: a garage and a place to live
ownership rates in the country outside of Manhattan; it is wrong
to require people to maintain a place for a car, which they may
not even own.
These drawings provide one illustration of how the ground
floor of a typical San Francisco Victorian building could be con-
verted into a garden apartment, while still providing room for a
car. It’s true that the person living in the garden apartment
Chapter name

wouldn’t have a parking space, but in a city like San Francisco,

with the enormous housing shortage, the lack of a parking
space is an utterly trivial reason to object. The city should do
everything possible to encourage home owners to add in-law
housing units.

Chapter 10
located in the right places, is good for neighborhoods. It
strengthens local shops, adds to the sense of safety, and
makes neighborhoods more walkable. It can help ensure that
Planning for a
our children and grandchildren can choose to live here. Better Future
Housing Recommendations is this: we should plan for a better future. This may sound
• Increase funding for below market-rate housing. obvious, but it’s not what we do now. San Francisco’s trans-
• Upzone along major transit lines. portation plans assume that congestion is going to get worse
• Make it legal to create new secondary “in-law” housing and it’s going to be harder to get anywhere. Our housing
units—without dedicated parking spaces—when they plans assume that the cost of living is going to get even
can meet standards of health and safety. higher. And our regional land use plans show that we will
• Eliminate minimum parking requirements. lose even more farmland to sprawl. It’s as if a terrible paral-
• Create incentives for housing downtown. ysis has overtaken us all, so that we watch helplessly as San
• Re-zone underutilized industrial land for housing, Francisco marches down a path that none of us want to be on.
especially in SOMA. This document, along with TLC’s other work, is intended

Planning for a Better Future

• Develop housing on top of public facilities. to break the cycle of passivity. The city government makes
• Repeal the gas station preservation ordinance. future-oriented plans all the time. They include the General
• Develop environmental review guidelines which assume Plan (which governs development and overall physical
it’s good for the environment to build housing in San change), capital plans for Muni and other public works agen-
Francisco. cies, and the Countywide Transportation Plan (which allo-
• Reduce situations in which a housing development cates spending over the next 20 years). These plans should
requires discretionary votes by the Planning Commission result in measurable improvements:
or the Board of Supervisors. • We should be less car-dependent, with more trips being
• Carry out comprehensive neighborhood plans to build taken by bikes, transit, and walking.
consensus about where housing should go within a neigh- • Travel time on Muni should decrease.
borhood, and what amenities should be provided along • The pedestrian environment should get better.
with the housing. • The cost of housing, relative to wages, should go down.
• Gaps in the bicycle network should be closed.
• The amount of valuable urban land devoted to parking against city-wide needs. But TLC believes that the best
should decrease, as it is converted to housing and jobs. way to do this is through careful neighborhood planning
• Pedestrian fatalities should go down each year. efforts, which inform the debate with facts about the larger
context. Ideally, neighborhood plans would begin with hous-
The major planning documents need to have goals like these ing production targets; participants would be asked to find
that are measurable and realistic. The plans should spell out appropriate locations within their neighborhood for the nec-
the steps necessary to move us from here to a more positive essary number of housing units. In addition, a good neigh-
future. borhood planning process doesn’t just ask participants what
they want, but provides education so people become more
Comprehensive Neighborhood Planning informed participants.
Residents of neighborhoods have a right to help decide The Planning Department’s Better Neighborhoods
what’s going to happen in their neighborhoods. This is demo- process is the model for this. It is conducting comprehensive
cratic. And it’s also just reality: change in San Francisco is neighborhood plans around the Market and Octavia area, the
always going to involve the participation of a lot of people. Balboa Park transit station, and the Central Waterfront.
What this means is that physical change—including This program should be continued and expanded.16 Over
street redesigns, transit improvements, and especially infill time, every neighborhood in the city could undergo a com-
Planning for a Better Future

housing—must be planned in a way that acknowledges the prehensive planning process. Every resident has a right to
democratic ethos of San Francisco. Probably the best way to live in a healthy neighborhood, where shops and public
plan for change is through comprehensive neighborhood amenities are convenient, where there is a sense of safety,
plans. Instead of fighting over specific projects, take a step and where transit connections are excellent. Until we
back, and think about the big picture of how the neighbor- achieve this goal, neighborhood planning remains to be done.
hood could be improved over time. Try to build consensus
around the vision for the future. This vision is codified as a Coordinated Transportation Planning
neighborhood plan. And then, when projects come along that For many years, the streets have been managed for the ben-
are already approved in the plan, they don’t have to go efit of cars, and transit has been starved of money. In 1999
through an extensive approval process all over again. Proposition E merged Muni and the Department of Parking
Neighborhood planning up front will give everyone more and Traffic into the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA).
certainty about what’s going to happen. The goal was to stop having a department of cars and a
Of course neighborhood concerns need to be balanced department of transit, and instead to empower the new agency
Downtown: A Transit-First Success Story
A healthy economy is an important part of a livable city. From a including all of the largest in the region, converge in one
land use planning perspective, it is important to make sure that place.
jobs are located in places that allow the city to function efficiently. • There is very little parking. This makes the streets good to
Within San Francisco, there is only one place that makes walk on and allows for high densities. It’s why our downtown
sense for office jobs: downtown. San Francisco is fortunate to is different from San Jose’s or Denver’s.
have one of the best downtowns in the whole country. Fully 57% These strengths should be added to. Parking downtown
of people get to work without a car. It is walkable. It works for should be reduced over time. The transit infrastructure should be

Chapter name
business, making it easy to get to meetings or to meet someone increased. There is a natural alliance between livable city advo-
for lunch. cates and the business community, based on our shared interest
Many of the people who enjoy working downtown may not in a healthy economy, and our shared understanding of the need
understand all of the things that go into making it so successful. for transit infrastructure to make the city work.
For example:
• The office core is concentrated, rather than spread out.
• It is built on the back of transit. Dozens of transit carriers,
How People Commute to Work

69% Drive Alone

Percent of Trips


13% 12% 11%
10% 8%

Regional Average San Francisco Downtown San Francisco

to take a comprehensive look at the transportation system.
TLC is working to help the city realize the promise of Planning Recommendations
coordinated transportation planning. The MTA has only • Adopt strategies that will result in measurable improve-
begun to look at this. We call on the MTA to: ments to livability so we know if we are making progress.
• Take responsibility for pedestrians and bikes, not just cars • Conduct comprehensive neighborhood planning to build
and Muni. consensus about how to manage physical change over
• Create an integrated street design process that grows time. Require these efforts to address citywide needs.
from a broad understanding of the uses of streets, and not • Adopt mode-split targets for the city that show a reduced
simply continue traffic engineering as usual. automobile dependence over time.
• Adopt mode-split targets that will increase the share of
trips taken by transit and bike every year.
• Use parking policies to encourage a more livable city.
• Be much more aggressive about giving Muni the right of
way it needs to run on time and reduce overall trip times.
The other major player in local transportation planning
is the Transportation Authority. Among other things, the
Planning for a Better Future

Transportation Authority is responsible for allocating money

from the city’s sales tax and from regional sources. We call
on the Transportation Authority to:
• Measure how well the streets work for everyone, not just
how much congestion there is for cars.
• Produce a countywide plan that educates people about the
critical issues and trade offs we face as a city. The plan
should describe what will happen if we make different
choices, and provide a path to a better transportation sys-
tem than we have today.

Estimates of the total subsidy to drivers in the United
Chapter 11 States vary widely, depending on what you count, but it is

Paying for It probably in the hundreds of billions each year. (See

“Automobile Welfare” sidebar.)
Drivers should pay their own way. Road construction
SAN FRANCISCO IS A WEALTHY CITY, WITHIN A and repair, at a minimum, should be funded out of user fees
wealthy country. When we look around the world and see such as gas taxes and parking surcharges.
the marvels of Parisian sidewalks or the efficiency of the
Curritiba, Brazil, bus system, it becomes clear that we have Creative Funding Options
no excuse for short-changing our city. San Francisco is in the fortunate position of having a variety
of options for increasing funding of transportation improve-
Reduce Automobile Subsidies ments, in ways that will be equitable, while not hurting the
Cars are expensive to own. But the vast majority of the economy:
expenses of driving are not, in fact, borne by drivers. They • A gas tax. A 10-cent regional gas tax would generate $440
are paid by other people, or by future generations. million for San Francisco over 20 years. Or, the city could
Economists have a word for this: externalities. Some of the go on its own and levy a one percent gas tax that would
most important externalities include: also raise millions.
• The costs of providing police and ambulance services • The 1⁄2 cent sales tax is currently one of the main sources
related to traffic accidents. of revenue for transportation, bringing in $65 million each
• The 40% of road construction and maintenance costs not year. It should be reauthorized for 30 years and increased
paid for by gas taxes and fees. to 3⁄4 of a cent. Because the city’s sales tax exempts food
• The public health costs of asthma and other diseases and rent, it is relatively progressive.
caused by air pollution from cars. • Increase the parking tax from 25% to 35%. This would

Paying for It
• Deterioration of the Bay from automobile pollutants in generate $25 million a year for Muni, if the current alloca-
storm water runoff. tion of the tax continues.
• The impacts of greenhouse gas pollution on the future liv- • The Transit Impact Development Fee, the fee paid by
ability of the planet. downtown office development for Muni service, could bring
• Some portion of the U.S. military budget which is devoted in an additional $75–$120 million over the next twenty
to maintaining a reliable supply of oil. years if it is applied city-wide and to all commercial devel-
when the Bridge is most crowded, we would also encourage
people who are able to switch the time of their trip to do so,
thereby easing the Bridge traffic jam.
• Residential parking permit fees can be used to better allo-
cate scarce curb space, while generating money for trans-
portation improvements that benefit the neighborhood.
• Joint development with transit improvements is a great
source wherever it can work. The Transbay Terminal is a
good example. Muni could develop on top of some of its bus
yards as well.
• A car tax. Currently, there are about 390,000 registered
automobiles in San Francisco.17 Under state law, there is
just a four dollar vehicle registration fee today, paid just
once, when the car is first registered. The money is spent by
the regional air quality district on programs to improve air
quality. But given the magnitude of costs that car owners
are imposing on society, perhaps we should explore a much
higher fee on car ownership. If we charged just $100 per
year per car that’s registered to a person or business with a
San Francisco address, we would generate $39 million every
year that could be spent on improving Muni service, making
the city more walkable, or any of our pressing needs. State
legislation would be necessary to enable the city to charge a
Paying for It

opment. At this level, the fee would still be low enough car tax.
that it would not displace development to other cities. • Land value recapture. When a major transit improvement is
• Bridge tolls represent one of the great untapped put in place, the value of the property next to the transit is
resources. Adding one dollar to the Bay Bridge toll would increased. One of the best ways to pay for transit is to chan-
generate $120 million each year for the region. If we nel a portion of that increased land value back into the tran-
implemented “congestion pricing”— charging a higher toll sit system. Sometimes transit agencies can buy land around
Automobile Welfare Resources
Our society subsidizes cars. If cars were forced to pay their own This compilation is drawn from John Holtzclaw, “America’s Autos
way, we would have a lot more money to spend on other priori- on Welfare: A Summary of Subsidies,” (October 1996),
ties, and drivers would have an incentive to economize.
Researchers have tried to estimate the magnitude of auto- Brian Ketcham & Charles Komanoff, “Win-Win Transportation: A No-Losers Approach To
mobile welfare in America. The results vary, depending on what Financing Transport in New York City the Region,” DRAFT, (9 July 1992) KEA: 270 Lafayette
#400, New York 10012, (212) 334-9767.
costs are included and how the estimates are made. Some of
Todd Litman, “Transportation Cost Survey” (2 Feb 1992) Victoria Transport Policy Institute,
the major studies are cited here. 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada, Phone/Fax: (250) 360-1560,
The dollars/gallon figure refers to what a gas tax would, webpage:

need to be per gallon, to make drivers pay the full cost of driving James MacKenzie, Roger Dower & Donald Chen, “The Going Rate: What It Really Costs To
at the pump. European countries have gone much further than Drive” (1992) World Resources Institute, 1709 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20006.

the United States in trying to get the prices right, through car John Moffet & Peter Miller, “The Price of Mobility” (Oct 1993) Natural Resources Defense
Council, 71 Stevenson Pl #1825, San Francisco CA 94105, (415) 777-0220.
taxes and gas taxes that try to give drivers a more accurate sig-
nal about what driving really costs. Shouldn’t San Francisco try Michael Vorhees, “The True Costs of the Automobile to Society” (4 Jan 1992); 3131 Bell
Dr., Boulder CO 80301, (303) 449-9067.
to take some steps towards getting cars off welfare?
Offiice of Technology Assessment, “Saving Energy in U.S. Transportation” (1994) U.S
Congress, OTA-ETI-589.
$/Gallon Annual Total ($ Billion)
Mark Delucchi, “A Total Cost Of Motor-Vehicle Use” Access (spring 1996).

Ketcham & Komanoff 5.53 730

Litman 7.08 935
MacKenzie, Dower, & Chen 3.03 400
Moffet & Miller 2.86–5.00 378–660
Vorhees 4.78 631
Office of Technology 3.39–6.81 447–889
Delucchi 3.13–7.55 413–997

station areas, which means that they get increases in value
due to their investments in a very straighforward way. Chapter 12
BART has the power to do this currently. For Muni, the
city would have to be more creative. Could the city issue
bonds against future property tax increases around station
areas, as a way to fund expansion? WALKING, BICYCLING, AND PUBLIC TRANSIT ARE SOME-
times called “alternative transportation.” But to TLC, this is
These are just some of the options we have for getting the a misnomer. People walk every day. A majority of San
money San Francisco needs to make its transit system work. Franciscans get to work without driving. And more to the
But as we have discussed throughout this report, it takes point, if we do our job right, these modes will become more
more than money to make a good transit system. It’s even and more common—the mainstream, normal ways of getting
more important to be smart about spending the money we around.
have. We have tried to present a plan for a more livable San
Francisco that is realistic, but also visionary. In order to
make change, we want to you to imagine a city that is better
than any which has existed before. We want to raise your
sights about what is possible. San Francisco could be a
pedestrian paradise. Its parks could celebrate the forces of
nature and the diversity of its people. It could be as bicycle-
friendly as Amsterdam and as transit-intensive as Paris. It
could grow each year in cultural richness, evolving along a
path that is all its own.
If we dare to be visionary about the future of our city
Paying for It

and region, over time we can build communities that are

safe, walkable, convenient, and diverse. We can enjoy the
richness of city life, while still having intimate neighbor-
hoods that we live in. We can get where we need to be, with-
out sacrificing the places in between.

1. Jan Gehl, in Life Between Buildings (New York:Van Nostrand thoroughfares have sidewalks only 10' wide thanks to massive
Reinhold, 1987), reminds us that comfortable places to sit are street widening projects in the 1920s through 1950s.
essential for the
8. See London’s Transportation Plan at
viability of city life.
strategies/transport/index.htm. Also, see the Bay Area Council’s
2. Minimum sidewalk widths should be established throughout the Transportation Action Plan, which calls for variable pricing on
city. Jane Jacobs recommends 30 to 35 feet as ideal, with 20 feet as bridges,
the minimum width on a street with any activity in The Death and at
Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House, 1961):
9. This metaphor comes from Donald Shoup. See “An Opportunity to
87. Looking around the city today, we find that Market Street has
Reduce Minimum Parking Requirements,” American Planning
sidewalks 33 feet wide; Van Ness has 16 feet; Upper Fillmore has
Association Journal (winter, 1995): 14–28.
15 feet; Haight Street and Valencia have 10 foot sidewalks; and
many streets have narrower sidewalks. In general, the more traf- 10. Parking “cash-out” programs would reduce solo driving to work
fic there is, the more pedestrians need to be buffered from it, with by 20%. See Donald Shoup, Cashing Out Employer-Paid Parking.
both parked cars and a wider sidewalk. Final Report, University of California Transportation Center,
Report UCTC No. 140 (1992).
3. Chuck Purvis, “Detailed Commute Characteristics in the Bay
Area,” Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Working Paper 11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1999 Consumer Expenditure Survey,
Number 7, Table 2.2. Report #949 (May 2001):

4. RIDES for Bay Area Commuters Commute Profile 2001, available 12. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, “Making Taxi
at Service Work in San Francisco,” (2001).
13. Copenhagen, for example, has implemented a program to reduce
5. The distinction between adapting transportation to land uses and central area parking by 3% each year, adding more housing down-
adapting land uses to transportation comes from Professor Robert town and investing in pedestrian amenities. As urbanist and pro-
Cervero, in his book, The Transit Metropolis (Washington, D.C.: fessor Jan Gehl described the results: “The city became like a good
Island Press, 1998). party.” Quoted in Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy,
Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence
6. While bikes should continue to be permitted on as many transit
(Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1999).
services as possible, the future high rate of bicycle use will pre-
clude permitting that on an unlimited basis. Indeed, in most of the 14. Force = 1⁄ 2 mass × velocity2. Because the velocity is squared, even
countries where bike use is very high, bike carriage on transit is a light vehicle, if it is moving fast, will kill.

limited through fees that are much higher than the fee for parking
15. San Francisco Housing DataBook, Bay Area Economics 2002.
a bike at the station.
7. Guerrero Street, for example, and most of the South of Market
16. See the Better Neighborhoods web site at

17. Chuck Purvis, “Auto Ownership in the San Francisco Bay Area: Photo & Graphic Credits
1930–2010” (July 1997):
Cover: Photographs, left to right, top to bottom: Tristan Savatier
©1998; SPUR; Dave Snyder, 2002; Kate Colby, 2002; SPUR.
Page 3: Patrick David Barber, ©pdbd 2002.
Page 5: Dave Snyder, 2002.
Page 6: Jerry Goldberg, 2001.
Page 8: Dave Snyder, 2002.
Page 10: Dave Snyder, 2002.
Page 11: Data from Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy, Sustainability
and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence (Island Press,
1999); data compiled by Gabriel Metcalf using Tables 3.9, 3.12,
and A.1; graph rendered by Patrick David Barber/pdbd.
Page 13: Map by Marshall Foster and Jill Slater, San Francisco Planning
Department in San Francisco Planning and Urban Research
Association, Vision of a Place: A Guide to the San Francisco
General Plan, (San Francisco: SPUR, 2002).
Photo and Graphic Credits

Pages 14–15: Illustrations, left to right: David Vasquez/Rescue Muni, 2002;

Muni, n/d; David Vasquez/Rescue Muni, 2002.
Page 17: Josh Apte ©TALC.
Page 20: Josh Apte ©TALC.
Page 21: Patrick David Barber, ©pdbd 2001.
Page 23: Josh Apte ©TALC.
Page 24: Photographs, left to right: Shannon Dodge, 2002; Dave Snyder,
Page 26: Maps by Marshall Foster and Jill Slater, San Francisco Planning
Department in San Francisco Planning and Urban Research